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Planting Instructions


How to Plant Trees (general instructions)

    Proper placement of tree is critical for your enjoyment and their long-term survival. Before planting your tree, consider the tree's mature size. When the tree nears maturity, will it be too close to your house or other structures? Be considerate of your neighbors. An evergreen tree planted on the north side may block the sun from your next door neighbor. Will it provide too much shade for your vegetable and flower gardens? Most vegetables and many flowers require considerable amounts of sun. If you intend to grow these plants, consider how the placement of trees will affect these gardens. Will it obstruct driveways or sidewalks? Will it cause problems for buried or overhead utilities?
Planting a Tree
  •       A properly planted and maintained tree will grow faster and live longer than one that is incorrectly planted. Trees can be planted almost any time of the year as long as the ground is not frozen. Late summer or early fall is the optimum time to plant trees in many areas. This gives the tree a chance to establish new roots before winter arrives and the ground freezes. When spring arrives, the tree is ready to grow. The second choice for planting is late winter or early spring. Planting in hot summer weather should be avoided. Planting trees in frozen soil during the winter is difficult and tough on tree roots. When the tree is dormant and the ground is frozen, there is no opportunity for the growth of new tree roots.
  •       Trees are purchased as container grown, balled and burlapped (B&B), and bare root. Generally, container grown trees are the easiest to plant and successfully establish in any season, including summer. With container grown stock, the plant has been growing in a container for a period of time. When planting container grown trees, little damage is done to the roots as the tree is transferred to the soil. Container grown trees range in size from very small plants in gallon pots up to large trees in huge pots. B&B trees frequently have been dug from a nursery, wrapped in burlap, and kept in the nursery for an additional period of time, giving the roots opportunity to regenerate. B&B plants can be quite large. Bare root trees require special care. Because there is no soil on the roots, they must be planted when they are dormant to avoid drying out. The tree roots must be kept moist until planted. Bare root trees should be planted as soon as possible upon arrival.

      Carefully follow the planting instructions that come with your tree. If specific instructions are not available, follow these tips:

  • Dig a hole twice as wide as, and slightly shallower than, the root ball. Roughen the sides and bottom of the hole with a pick or shovel so that roots can penetrate the soil.
  • With a potted tree, gently remove the tree from the container. Lay the tree on its side with the container end near the planting hole. Hit the bottom and sides of the container until the root ball is loosened. If roots are growing in a circular pattern around the root ball, slice through the roots on a couple of sides of the root ball. With trees wrapped in burlap, remove the string or wire that holds the burlap to the root crown. It is unnecessary to completely remove the burlap. Plastic wraps must be completely removed. Gently separate circling roots on the root ball. Shorten exceptionally long roots, and guide the shortened roots downward and outward. Root tips die quickly when exposed to light and air, so don't waste time.
  • Place the root ball in the hole. Leave the top of the root ball (where the roots end and the trunk begins) 1/2 to 1 inch above the surrounding soil, making sure not to cover it unless roots are exposed. For bare root trees, make a mound of soil in the middle of the hole and spread the tree roots out evenly over the mound. Do not set trees too deep. As you add soil to fill in around the tree, lightly tamp the soil to collapse air pockets, or add water to help settle the soil. Form a temporary water basin around the base of the tree to encourage water penetration, and water thoroughly after planting. A tree with a dry root ball cannot absorb water; if the root ball is extremely dry, allow water to trickle into the soil by placing the hose at the base of the tree.
  • Mulch around the tree. A 3-foot diameter circle of mulch is common.
      For the first year or two, especially after a week or so of especially hot or dry weather, watch your trees closely for signs of moisture stress. If you see leaf wilting or hard, caked soil, water the trees well and slowly enough to allow the water to soak in. This will encourage deep root growth. Keep the area under the trees mulched.
      Some species of evergreen trees may need protection against winter sun and wind. A thorough watering in the fall before the ground freezes is recommended. Spray solutions are available to help prevent drying of tree foliage during the winter.
      Fertilization is usually not needed for newly planted trees. Depending on soil and growing conditions, fertilizer may be beneficial at a later time.

      Usually, pruning is not needed on newly planted trees. As the tree grows, lower branches may be pruned to provide clearance above the ground, or to remove dead or damaged limbs or suckers that sprout from the trunk of the tree. Sometimes larger trees need pruning to allow more light to enter the canopy. Small branches can be removed easily with pruners. Large branches should be removed with a pruning saw. All cuts should be vertical. This will allow the tree to heal quickly without the use of sealants. Major pruning should be done in late winter or early spring. At this time the tree is more likely to "bleed" as sap is rising through the plant. This is actually healthy and will help prevent invasion by many disease organisms. Heavy pruning in the late summer or fall may reduce the tree's winter hardiness. Removal of large branches can be hazardous. If in doubt about your ability to prune properly, contact a professional with the proper equipment.
      Under no circumstance should trees be topped. Not only does this practice ruin the natural shape of the tree, but it increases susceptibility to diseases and results in very narrow crotch angles, the angle between the trunk and the side branch. Narrow crotch angles are weaker than wide ones and more susceptible to damage from wind and ice. If a large tree requires major reduction in height or size, contact a professionally trained arborist. There are other methods to selectively remove large branches without sacrificing the health or beauty of the tree.

Japanese Maple Planting Instructions

In choosing a location for your plant - most Red Japanese Maples prefer some shade. This helps protect the foliage from the harshest summer light. But in order to develop their deep reds that they are known for, these plants need direct sunlight for at least a portion of the day. They are called “understory” plants that need partial shade in order to thrive.
The root system is not a deep taproot variety, rather it consists of a fibrous root network that stays in the upper levels of the soil. As with any tree, its roots over time will get deeper and deeper.
Even though the roots of your Japanese Maple tree will stay more towards the surface level, these plants are fairly non-competitive. They will still grow well even when surrounded by an abundance of other plants and foliage.
Planting Your Japanese Maple Tree
The hole should be dug slightly larger than the root system of the plant.
To help the roots establish themselves quickly, it helps to mix the soil with an organic compost (conifer bark mulch, rhododendron or azalea planting mix or rose compost). This is recommended but not necessarily needed.
The root collar of the plant, the ground line on the stem where the young plant was grown, should be level with the ground surface.
Exception- If you have clay soil, dig your hole rather shallow, so that the root system is partly above the ground. When filling the hole, the soil should be mounded up to the root collar to protect the tree from drying out. (If deep holes are dug in heavy soils such as clay, the hole acts like a large iron kettle with no drainage, causing the water to build up, drowning and killing your tree.) 
Mulching around your Japanese Maple helps to maintain a weed free area, minimizes water loss in dry conditions, and provides winter protection for the roots during cold frosts.
The ideal mulch bed is a 2in. layer of coarse bark
The “average” amount of water supplied to most common lawn and garden plants should be adequate for your new Japanese Maple Tree
During the hot summer months, water your Japanese Maple in early morning or evening. This will help protect against a condition known as “scorching” where the leaves appear to have been burnt by the sun, a condition thought to be brought on by watering in the mid-day sun.   

Japanese maples do not require large amounts of nutrients. If your other lawn and garden plants do well, your Japanese Maple should grow just fine.
Any recommended fertilization should use a balanced complete fertilizer for shrubs and trees. This should be applied once a year in early spring, and if possible be applied just before the leaves appear.

Your tree will need 2 to 3 years to become firmly established in your lawn or garden. After this period, you may begin to prune your tree if desired, although it is not required.
*These instructions have been compiled from portions of the magnificent book Japanese Maples by Gregory Vertrees, Third Edition.
Winter Protection
Wrap Japanese Maples for at least the first two-three years with burlap (with or without stakes - I prefer stakes). In more exposed conditions, wrap every year. This is a must to ensure minimum winter damage. A heavy watering just prior to freeze up will also ensure minimum drying out. An extra heavy mulch application in late fall will also help Japanese Maple roots to be protected. I also add a touch of SKOOT paste on the first 2 feet of the tree to stop pesky mice/voles and rabbits from girdling (chewing a ring of death around the maple) your prized possession.


Magnolia Planting Instructions

One of the keys to success is to allow for the ultimate size of the magnolia, even if this means using temporary shrubs or plantings around it. Magnolias resent disturbance and do not transplant easily. Allow about 6.0m around the larger magnolias, less for narrower and smaller M. stellata.
Select a site protected from wind and offers either light shade or sun (magnolias in full shade can become scraggly and flower sparsely). Place deciduous, spring-flowering magnolias where the sun will not cause buds to open prematurely, risking frost damage.
Magnolias prefer a well-drained, good garden loam that is rich in organic matter, compost or leafmould, much like their forest home. Plant when dormant to reduce the risk of the plant sulking!
A planting hole more than twice the width of the root ball is required. Do not 'bury' the plant but keep it at the same level as indicated by the soil mark on the main stem. Magnolias are surface feeders and planting too deeply will not make for a happy plant.
Stake new plants to help them to establish, removing the stake after one year. Mulch to conserve moisture, leaving the stem itself clear to avoid collar rot. A little 'NPK' fertiliser may provide a good start, but good irrigation for the first growing season is more important.
Avoid damaging the roots when working nearby, as this can easily set the magnolia back and can sometimes be fatal.
Mulch magnolias each spring to conserve moisture and add needed nutrients, again take care to avoid collar rot.
Pruning is not necessary, although you can prune to reduce the size of your magnolia. Pruning removes flowering wood, reducing flowering the following season.
p.s.  an old trick to help magnolias grow well is to plant rusted old cans or spikes or anything metal near the roots, as they love the iron!